Four Bears (Mato'-to'pe), Mandan, ca. 1795-1837
Issued April 1991
12 inches tall (30.5 cm)
Legendary West Premier Edition
There are several famous paintings of Mandan Chief Four Bears by George Catlin in 1832 and Karl Bodmer in 1833. Four Bears lived at the Knife River Village in the North Dakota region and died in the smallpox epidemic of 1837.
Of Four Bears, Catlin wrote, "No tragedian ever trod the stage, nor gladiator ever entered the Roman Forum, with more grace and manly dignity than did Four Bears as he arrived for his sitting. He wore embroidered deerskin leggings and a shirt decorated with pictographic accounts of his war feats. His headdress of eagle feathers and ermine was crowned with buffalo horns, which convey his exceeding valour, worth, and power." Catlin rewarded him with a splendid likeness that is one of the most influential American portraits ever painted.
Oil painting by George Catlin, 1832
Mah-to-toh-pa, Four Bears, Second Chief, in Full Dress
29 x 24 inches
Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.
Plate 64 from Catlin's "The
Manners, Customs and Condition of the North American Indians"
Archives & Rare Books Department, University of Cincinnati
Four Bears is also the subject for Chris Pardell's Esteemed Warrior and Four Bears' Challenge.